Programming note – Sharks-Maple Leafs coverage starts today at 4:00 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on CSN California
WHERE THEY STAND
Sharks: 16-10-1, 33 points, 4th Pacific Division
Maple Leafs: 11-11-5, 27 points, 7th Atlantic Division
PREGAME NEWS AND NOTES
***The Sharks begin a four-game road trip tonight that will also take them to Ottawa, Montreal and Chicago later this week. They are 6-7-1 on the road, and 1-3-1 in their last five.
Scoring goals has been a season-long issue for the Sharks, but they are coming off of 4-3 home win over Carolina on Saturday. Conversely, San Jose is fifth in the NHL allowing just 2.18 goals-per game.
“We’ve won a lot of low scoring games here. It’s becoming second nature to us,” Pete DeBoer said. “Hopefully the goals are coming. We had four last game, and hopefully we can build on that.”
***DeBoer called Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) and David Schlemko (right ankle) game-time decisions, although Schlemko, who has missed the last three games, said after the morning skate that he’s good to go.
Vlasic left the Hurricanes game midway through the second period, and was one of the first players off the ice on Tuesday morning, suggesting he’s more doubtful to play than Schlemko. The Sharks were 7-7-1 without Vlasic last season, but Brenden Dillon thinks this year’s defense corps is better set up to deal with his potential absence.
“From top to bottom, I think we’re a little bit more mobile this year,” Dillon said. “[Vlasic] is a guy that moves the puck well and is able to shut down team’s speed. … With Schlemmer coming back, that’s good for us. Teams are going through injuries, and we’re going to have to deal with them.”
***Toronto is 1-3-1 in its last five games, and will be playing the second of a five-game homestand. Colorado beat the Maple Leafs on Sunday, 3-1, despite Toronto recording 52 shots on goal.
“I saw us play in the o-zone. We didn’t score. We haven’t scored in a bit,” said coach Mike Babcock, whose club has nine goals in its last five games.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Sharks: Joe Thornton. It was just about this time last year when Thornton started to take off after a slow start – after Dec. 15, 2015, he was tied with Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in scoring the rest of the way. Thornton, who is still searching for his first goal in a manned net this season, has had career success against Toronto with 10 goals and 30 assists for 40 points in 44 games.
Maple Leafs: Auston Matthews. The first overall pick in the 2016 draft, Matthews is tied for the team lead with 12 goals, tied for second on Toronto in scoring with 20 points, and has a team-leading 97 shots on goal. He has scored at least one goal in five of Toronto’s last eight games (six total).
Patrick Marleau – Joe Thornton – Joe Pavelski
Joonas Donskoi – Logan Couture – Joel Ward
Kevin Labanc – Chris Tierney – Mikkel Boedker
Matt Nieto – Tommy Wingels – Melker Karlsson
Paul Martin – Brent Burns
Brenden Dillon – Justin Braun
David Schlemko – Dylan DeMelo
Martin Jones (starter)
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Connor Brown
James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman – Auston Matthews – William Nylander
Matt Martin – Ben Smith – Nikita Soshnikov
Morgan Rielly – Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner – Connor Carrick
Matt Hunwick – Roman Polak
Frederik Andersen (starter)
Sharks: David Schlemko (right ankle) and Marc-Edouard Vlasic (lower body) are questionable. Tomas Hertl (right knee sprain) is out.
Maple Leafs: Joffrey Lupul (sports hernia), Stephane Robidas (knee) and Martin Marincin (undisclosed) are out.
“We have a very young team, and I think we’re proving it. Every game is better and better. We still have lots to learn, but I think we’re [going] in a good [direction].” - Maple Leafs defenseman Roman Polak